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    “Organic” Means Crap?!? Stanford Study Results & Dirty Dozen

    organic vs conventional produceWithin the past 12 hours, I’ve heard 2 reports about a shocking report by Stanford, saying that organic food is no better than conventional produce.  More specifically, that organic foods offer no more vitamins and nutrients than conventional products.

    No crap, friends. Let’s picture 2 plants, side by side. One’s treated with pesticides, one isn’t. The one without pesticides shouldn’t miraculously produce more nutrients (in theory), right?  It’s a little frustrating to see headlines of “Organic isn’t healthier!“, which misses the point.

    Instead, organic produce is better because you’re eliminating pesticides and  chemicals from your body. Pesticides have been linked to brain & nervous system toxicity, cancer, hormone disruption and skin, eye & lung irritation (among others!) Gross stuff.

    But don’t fret about your wallet – you don’t need to buy EVERYTHING organic (even though CSAs are a good bang for your buck). Here’s the dirty dozen (according to the EWG) of what you should be buying organic:

    1. Apples
    2. Celery
    3. Sweet bell peppers
    4. Peaches
    5. Strawberries
    6. Imported nectarines
    7. Grapes
    8. Spinach
    9. Lettuce
    10. Cucumbers
    11. Blueberries (domestic)
    12. Potatoes
    13. (Green beans/kale – added onto their list because of their highly toxic organophosophate insecticides).

    Readers, what do you think of these reports? What do you buy organic?


    Photo: Go Raw Have Fun

    Julie Hancher

    About Julie Hancher

    Julie Hancher is Editor-in-Chief of Green Philly, sharing her expertise of all things sustainable in the city of brotherly love. She enjoys long walks in the park with local beer and greening her travels, cooking & cat, Sir Floofus Drake.

    Your thoughts . . .

    • John

      Hi Julie. I stumbled upon this and just wanted to leave a comment about your post.

      1) I’m very glad that you mention that it is (and should be) obvious that organically-grown produce is not magically more nutritious or tastier than its non-organic counterpart.

      2) I think it’s important to note one important fact that you did not mention as well as one apparent mistake in your post. First, that, in short, the dose makes the poison. Oxygen, water, and just about anything else that goes into your body can harm or kill you at the right dose. By their nature, most pesticides (if not all–I’m not fully versed in modern pesticides, but know the basic pharmacology/toxicology) can be regarded as neurotoxins–that is, they work by harming/shutting down the pest’s simple nervous system. Some are poorly selective for insects (and thus also are harmful to mammals/fish), others are better. A dose that will kill an insect will likely have absolutely no effect on a human, although minimizing the amount of human contact with potentially harmful chemicals is always ideal.
      Secondly, you seem to imply that organic farming does not use pesticides. That is simply not true. To farm on any kind of reasonable scale, pest control–often including some use of chemical pesticide treatment–is necessary. Organic farming calls for certain limitations to what pesticides they use (and, I think how often they can be used), but pesticides are still used.

      It’s also worth noting that the pesticides used in organic farming aren’t necessarily safer for humans/animals than those in non-organic farming. I’m glad that, in the past several decades, we’ve improved farming methods and have “safer” pesticides, but am looking forward to a day when the notion of “organic” farming becomes obsolete, when we come up with non-persistent, highly-pest-selective pesticides (and when folks are happy to use whatever safe, effective fertilizer they have at their disposal).

      And, to answer your question: I buy whatever’s available and tastes best (sometimes that’s organic, sometimes not) and rinse my produce thoroughly before eating it (unless I know for certain that a particular place only uses non-pesticide forms of pest control).

      Sorry, that ended up pretty long.